It’s not often that city dwellers get the chance to get their hands dirty and press pause on urban life in the heart of the bustle of a city. Whether you are interested in understanding more about organic gardening practices, creating your own compost for fertiliser or getting to grips with pollinators and beekeeping, the educational charity Global Generation, is eager to teach and bring people together.
Skip Garden began in 2008 as a moveable, organic garden built in industrial skips. Since then it’s blossomed into an urban community project providing a variety of opportunities for locals, which includes a vegetarian cafe, Skip Garden Kitchen, serving fresh, seasonal dishes.
Jane Riddiford, co-founder of Global Generation, started Skip Garden after an initial project that took inner-city children to Pertwood Organic Farm, the organisation’s country home in Wiltshire. Jane saw the children connecting with nature in a deeper way as they engaged with the land, built fires and cooked together with the produce grown right under their noses.
“You talk to someone and ask ‘what is nature?’ and they start with bugs and bushes but actually, nature is every impulse inside ourselves, every ripple on the sea and is in everything here,” Jane says. “Global Generation is using that idea, applying it and cultivating it, particularly within areas that may be disconnected from that, such as in the middle of a construction site.”
Nicole Van den Eijnde, Global Generation’s director adds “I don’t think we get our hands dirty anymore and so, through gardening – through cooking, pottery, carpentry and working with natural materials – there’s a way for people who wouldn't usually come together, to come together in a neutral way. Through making things together, there's common ground between people, common values around compassion, caring and all of those things that connects us.”
Ecology, education and enterprise are at the heart of what Skip Garden does, offering a wide range of educational and social programmes with an eye to their motto: We are the Planet. Though the focus is geared towards giving young people new experiences and skills to unlock their potential and widen their perspectives, anyone can pop in to visit or join the team. Whether it’s for a spot of cordial and cocktail making, space and nature workshops, urban bee tours, yoga, supper clubs, creative writing, pottery or twilight gardening.
Understanding the way that an organic garden works is also put into effect with the kitchen. There is very little food waste as it all comes back to the ‘green engine’ and turns compost into fertiliser with the help of vermicultures. While you learn about the importance of the pollinator-friendly plants, you can smell mint being grown for Ruby Violet’s mint chocolate chip ice cream, or rosemary used in the cafe’s vegetarian dishes.
Everything in the Skip Garden is built using recycled materials, most of it coming from the construction site. There’s a Glass Lantern greenhouse of old windows and sashes, built by students from the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture; there’s a cool store for the kitchen made from earth-filled coffee sacks and planters made from leftover scaffolding boards.
“The relationships here are growing and changing the whole time,” explains Nicole, “with new people moving into the area and working with the communities who live on either side of the development that aren't necessarily benefitting from the changes that are happening here.”
While providing practical skills, the garden offers an opportunity to reconnect with a deeper part within all of us. “The most important part of a forest, the most important part of a garden is what’s happening in the soil, in the network of roots,” Jane says. “The Skip Garden isn't just about the skips and plants: it’s about a way of being. It's about making connections with each other.”
Skip Garden – 1 Tapper Walk, Kings Cross, London N1C 4AQ
For more information visit Global Generation.org.uk - About the Skip Garden
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